John Day

News and commentary on automotive EE trends and topics

30 September, 2015
strategy analytics Greg-Photo-2

Greg Basich

The research firm Strategy Analytics is out with a new report that predicts growth in the automotive navigation market and it links that growth to the industry’s increased focus on autonomous cars.

The report, “Navigation Market: Maps for Self-Driving Cars Shift Segment’s Focus – 2015 Update,” suggests that the availability of navigation will grow as ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) becomes more common and self-driving car research increases.

It says the market for automotive navigation software, data, and location-based services is shifting as automakers focus on bringing a mix of connected navigation experiences for drivers and using location data for ADAS and enabling self-driving cars.

Strategy Analytics predicts that shipments of embedded navigation software and hybrid navigation solutions will increase globally between 2013 and 2022 globally, with a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 13%.

More vehicles with line-fit infotainment systems that include navigation are shipping in emerging markets, such as China. Meanwhile, the market for brought-in navigation solutions is also growing. Automakers are enabling the use of smartphone-based navigation on in-dash displays.

“The market for navigation will continue to grow due to a mix of factors, including new use cases where embedded maps are used for ADAS and enabling self-driving cars and lower cost embedded navigation solutions,” says Greg Basich, Strategy Analytics senior analyst, Automotive Infotainment & Telematics service.

According to the report, companies including HERE, TomTom, and Continental are developing variations on highly precise maps for ADAS and autonomous driving while other companies, such as NNG and Telenav, are seeing increasing growth in the navigation market with a range of solution types, from embedded and hybrid to brought-in navigation products.

Angelos Lakrintis, Strategy Analytics analyst, Autonomous Vehicles Service, says that high-precision navigation data will play an increasingly important role as the auto industry develops semi- and eventually fully autonomous cars. Navigation solution providers are shifting their focus toward autonomous vehicles and related technology due to strong market interest in that segment.

Strategy Analytics will soon launch a new Autonomous Vehicles Service.

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28 September, 2015

I’ve noticed lately that a fair number of companies are working together. I suspect that their collaboration has something to do with the increasing complexity of automotive electronics hardware and software. No one knows everything.

Here are some recent examples of collaboration:

Designing, Simulating, and Testing Electrical Energy Storage Systems

dSPACE and RWTH Aachen University developed a new simulation environment for electrical energy storage systems. They combined “Toolbox Speichersysteme” (Energy Storage Toolbox), a simulation model developed at RWTH Aachen’s Institute for Power Electronics and Electrical Drives (ISEA), with a dSPACE graphical user interface. With that combination they could simulate the electrical and thermal behavior of various battery technologies, supercapacitors and other electrical energy storage systems.

dspace 9-24-15 PR-Bild_Batteriesimulation_1000px_RGB_150807

The partners subsequently integrated their new simulation environment into the dSPACE tool chain, so batteries can be simulated offline on a PC platform or in real time together with a battery management system ECU on a hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) simulator.

Autoliv, Inc. said it plans to enter a joint venture with Nissin Kogyo that will combine Autoliv’s brake control business with a portion of Nissin Kogyo’s braking business. Approximately 2,000 employees will focus on “brake control and brake apply” systems for the global light vehicle market, and the firms said their joint venture “will be characterized by integrated active and passive safety systems operating together.”

Elektrobit, Infineon and NVIDIA Plan to Deliver an Automated Driving Platform

Elektrobit (EB) says it is working with Infineon Technologies and NVIDIA to make it easier for automakers and suppliers to create advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). The firms say that ADAS applications developed with the solution will enable a vehicle to not just sense, but to interpret what is happening around it and communicate information to the driver, to other critical systems within the vehicle, to other vehicles nearby, and to the cloud.

Freescale and Continental Integrate Radar Solutions

Freescale Semiconductor and Continental announced plans to integrate Freescale’s upcoming 77 GHz radar technology into Continental’s next generation short- and mid-range automotive radar modules. The integration is intended as the next step in the evolution of Continental’s ADAS radar solutions and is also said to address the ISO 26262 standard.

Freescale said its next radar chipset will provide coverage around the vehicle for emergency braking, blind spot detection, lane keeping assistance, pedestrian detection, and more.

Vector Informatik Verifies Solutions with Ixia

Vector Informatik and Ixia say they are collaborating to secure, validate and optimize automotive Ethernet communications in the connected car market.

Vector said it selected Ixia’s solution, which happens to comply with AUTOSAR standards, to validate the conformance of its TCP/IP stack implementation.

Most if not all of these announcements were made within the last month. Have I missed any?

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22 September, 2015

Maxwell Technologies recently announced that General Motors plans to deploy Continental Automotive Systems’ voltage stabilization system (VSS) as a standard feature on 2016 Cadillac ATS and CTS sedans and ATS coups (except for the ATS-V, CTS-V and CT6 models) a vehicles).

Enabling Energy's Future.  (PRNewsFoto/Maxwell Technologies, Inc.)


Maxwell made the announcement for two reasons. First, because the Continental VSS is based on Maxwell’s ultracapacitor, and second, because GM will be the first North American automaker to use the VSS as part of an enhanced start-stop system.

You may know that start-stop systems are widely deployed in Europe, and Maxwell says that its ultracapacitor has done quite well there. Start-stop systems are comparatively novel in North America.

In start-stop systems the internal combustion engine is shut off when the driver stops and restarted when the driver accelerates. The results include lower emissions and better fuel economy.

According to Maxwell, battery-based start-stop systems that include an ultracapacitor-based VSS provide the burst power needed to restart the engine, thus reducing high currents and repeated cycling, which can shorten battery life.

Maxwell says that VSS electronic control results in a smooth start, reduced engine vibration and a superior driving experience. Plus, Maxwell’s ultracapacitors in Continental’s VSS design serve as an additional power source for stabilizing the vehicle’s electrical system during periods of high power demand.

Batteries produce and store energy by means of a chemical reaction. Ultracapacitors store energy in an electric field. Their electrostatic energy storage mechanism enables ultracapacitors to charge and discharge in fractions of a second, perform normally over a broad temperature range (-40 degrees C to +65 degrees C), operate reliably through 1 million or more charge/discharge cycles and resist shock and vibration.

“Automotive manufacturers around the world are seeking new ways to improve the performance of their cars while satisfying consumer demands for fuel efficiency,” says Jon Buckles, program manager for hybrid electric vehicles at Continental Automotive Systems. “Continental’s voltage stabilization system uses Maxwell’s ultracapacitors as an affordable option for automakers to create a more positive driving experience for their customers.”

“Performance has always been important to car owners, and Maxwell’s ultracapacitors enable consumers to get the fuel economy they desire without limiting their cars’ performance,” adds Maxwell Technologies CEO Dr. Franz Fink. “GM’s selection of Continental’s Maxwell-powered VSS is a further affirmation of our ultracapacitor capability for varying applications as the automotive industry continues down its path of vehicle electrification.”

The evolution of stop-start technology in North America is worth watching.

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20 September, 2015

ford 9-21-15 1442606698503Ford says that more than 90 smartphone apps are compatible with its SYNC AppLink™ application programming interface (API).

It would just as soon have a lot more, and it’s working to make that happen.

Upwards of 13,000 developers have registered with Ford and more than 24,000 software development kits have been downloaded.

SYNC AppLink™ lets drivers access smartphone apps from the driver’s seat, and allows phone apps to appear on the SYNC screen as they appear on the phone.

Ford provides more than a dozen design templates to help developers create a look and feel for their apps. New tools available for developers include a SYNC 3 technology development kit and vehicle data simulator software development kit to support testing and development without access to a vehicle.

Developers could access the vehicle data simulator at Ford’s second annual developer conference (2015 FordDev) last week. The simulator mimics the in-car experience using the technology development kit in various drive cycles. Available data includes average fuel economy, battery voltage, external temperature, fuel level, safety belt status, acceleration, driver braking, GPS, speed, tire pressure, vehicle identification number, odometer and engine rpm.

The latest AppLink application programming interfaces include:

• In-vehicle notifications: Developers can send push notifications to drivers through vehicle audio systems and displays – similar to users’ experiences on their smartphones
• Voice pass-through: Offers the ability for app developers to take advantage of increasingly popular cloud-based voice-activated services for in-app experiences
• Vehicle information access: Real-time information from various vehicle sensors allows for customization and personalization of app experiences

“Ford challenges developers to find new and exciting ways to improve the in-vehicle user experience,” said Doug VanDagens, Ford global director, Connected Services Solutions. “For the first time, Ford is giving developers the resources to help make vehicle-specific apps with new capabilities and tools to design experiences based on real-time vehicle information.”

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18 September, 2015
Toyota vehicle under automatic emergency braking demonstration, using Continental-developed Multi-Function Camera and Lidar.

Toyota vehicle under automatic emergency braking demonstration, using Continental-developed Multi-Function Camera and Lidar.

Continental has a goal of accident-free driving, including no fatal accidents, no injuries and ultimately, no accidents at all. They call it Vision Zero.

That’s a very large, very worthy goal that is likely to be achieved one step at a time.

For example, Continental developed an integrated sensor module it calls Multi-Function Camera with Lidar (MFL). It integrates a camera and an infrared Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging Sensor) in what Continental describes as a single compact unit.

Recently Continental announced that it is supplying MFL to Toyota for Toyota’s active safety package for compact cars, called Toyota Safety Sense C.

“We are proud to be the supplier of this module to Toyota, taking a big step towards Vision Zero,” said Samir Salman, CEO Continental North America. “With its three Continental-supplied active safety technologies – Pre-Collision System (PCS), Lane Departure Alert (LDA) and the Automatic High Beam (AHB) – the Toyota ‘C-Package’ equipped vehicles make a significant contribution to driving safety and reduction of accidents, helping to move towards the realization of Vision Zero.”

By combining the strengths of a camera with those of an infrared Lidar, MFL can detect objects ahead of the vehicle and warn the driver of a possible collision with an audio and visual alert. If the driver fails to brake in time, the system automatically applies the brakes.

Continental estimates that if a car is operating at 50 mph or less, a crash can be completely avoided if the relative speed to the detected object is less than 30 mph. If the speed differences are greater, Continental says emergency braking will reduce the force of impact by a considerable amount.

CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor) cameras are already used for identifying objects in front of a vehicle, but Lutz Kuehnke, who heads Continental’s ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) business unit in North America, says that a CMOS camera alone cannot always provide completely reliable information for initiating automatic emergency braking.

“This is why Continental is combining this passive sensor technology with an infrared Lidar in the MFL,” Kuehnke said. “The Lidar sensor transmits three pulsed infrared beams with a 905nm wavelength and measures the time-of-flight until the reflected beams reach the receiving optics.”

The sensor monitors a distance of more than 30 feet in front of the vehicle, which classifies it as a short-range Lidar system. From the speed of light and the time-of-flight, the MFL can calculate the distance to the object to an accuracy of about four inches. In conjunction with the CMOS camera, the sensor module provides reliable means of object categorization.

Continental says its MFL is scalable. Depending on the application, the computing capacity can be adjusted to three different levels. In addition to Lane Departure Alert (LDA), available with the Toyota Safety Sense C package, other ADAS functions such as Lane Keeping Support (LKS) and Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR) can be installed as additional optional vehicle equipment with the same sensor module.

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15 September, 2015

80593jlr_LowResJaguar Land Rover (JLR) has been working on a number of road safety research projects under a banner it calls “Sixth Sense.” One of its projects – Mind Sense – is based on technology developed by Freer Logic.

JLR’s aim is to reduce the number of accidents caused by drivers who are stressed, distracted, or for whatever other reason not concentrating on the road ahead.

“We believe some of the technologies currently being used in aerospace and medicine could help improve road safety and enhance the driving experience,” says Dr. Wolfgang Epple, JLR’s Director of Research and Technology. “The car is becoming more intelligent and more able to utilize cutting-edge sensors.”

Mind Sense

The goal of Mind Sense is to see if a car can effectively read a driver’s brainwaves and determine if the driver is beginning to daydream, or is feeling sleepy. The human brain continually generates four or more distinct brainwaves at different frequencies, and by continually monitoring which type of brainwave is dominant, an on-board computer may be able to assess whether a driver is focused, daydreaming, sleepy, or distracted. (Here’s a link to a lot more on this:

“If brain activity indicates a daydream or poor concentration, then the steering wheel or pedals could vibrate to raise the driver’s awareness and re-engage them with driving,” adds Dr Epple. Mind Sense could then display or sound a warning, and if it doesn’t detect a surge in brain activity it could display or sound the alarm again or communicate with the driver in some other way.

JLR is investigating a method used by NASA to develop a pilot’s concentration skills and by the US bobsleigh team to enhance concentration and focus. It’s detecting brainwaves through the hands via sensors embedded in the steering wheel. Because the sensing is taking place further away from the driver’s head, software is used to amplify the signal and filter out the pure brainwave from any background noise. JLR is conducting user trials to collect more information on the different brainwaves identified through the steering wheel sensors and it says it will involve leading neuroscientists in the project to verify the results.

Freer Logic says it is working with several other automakers and suppliers to apply its technology. Think about that.

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28 August, 2015

J.D. Power Logo
In its 2015 Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience (DrIVE) Report, J.D. Power says vehicle owners are not using in-vehicle technology features on which automakers have spent millions of dollars.

The research firm estimates that at least 20 percent of new-vehicle owners have “never used” 16 of the 33 technology features measured. For Gen Y – folks born between 1977 and 1994 – the number of don’t bother me with it features jumps to 23 – all related to entertainment and connectivity. That’s rather a big surprise.

Fourteen technology features that 20 percent or more of owners say they do not want in their next vehicle include Apple CarPlay, Google Android Auto, in-vehicle concierge services, and in-vehicle voice texting. And five features owners most commonly report that they “never use” are in-vehicle concierge (43%); mobile routers (38%); automatic parking systems (35%); head-up display (33%); and built-in apps (32%).

But Wait
The DrIVE Report measures driver experiences with in-vehicle technology features during the first 90 days of ownership, so it’s possible that attitudes can change.

The reasons most frequently cited for not wanting a specific technology feature in their next vehicle are “did not find it useful” in their current vehicle and the technology “came as part of a package on my current vehicle and I did not want it.”

“In many cases, owners simply prefer to use their smartphone or tablet because it meets their needs; they’re familiar with the device and it’s accurate,” said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction & HMI research at J.D. Power. “In-vehicle connectivity technology that’s not used results in millions of dollars of lost value for both consumers and the manufacturers.”

Then there are owners who say their dealer did not explain the feature, and that increases the likelihood of never using the technology. And features that are not activated when the vehicle is delivered often result in the owner not even knowing they have the technology.

“The first 30 days are critical,” said Kolodge. “That first-time experience with the technology is the make-it-or-break-it stage. Automakers need to get it right the first time, or owners will simply use their own mobile device instead of the in-vehicle technology.”

In-vehicle technologies that most owners do want include vehicle health diagnostics, blind-spot warning and detection, and adaptive cruise control – features that enhance the driving experience and safety, and are only available as a built-in feature versus an external device.

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25 August, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Dan McGehee of the Public Policy Center at the University of Iowa demonstrates the automated safety features of the university's new Volvo XC90 research vehicle for the "My Car Does What?" campaign around the Iowa City area on Monday, August 10, 2015. (Justin Torner/The University of Iowa)

Dan McGehee of the Public Policy Center at the University of Iowa demonstrates the automated safety features of the university’s new Volvo XC90 research vehicle for the “My Car Does What?” campaign around the Iowa City area (Justin Torner/The University of Iowa)

A new study from the University of Iowa Transportation and Vehicle Safety Research Division concludes that drivers are uncertain about how their car’s safety features work.

The safety technologies included in the study were:

• Back-up Camera
• Blind Spot Monitor
• Forward Collision Warning
• Anti-lock Braking Systems
• Rear Cross Traffic Alert
• Adaptive Cruise Control
• Automatic Emergency Braking Systems
• Lane Departure Warning
• Traction Control

A majority of respondents (more than 2,000 were surveyed) had heard of, been exposed to, or interacted with at least one of the safety features, but expressed uncertainty about all of the technologies.

“As technologies like rear-view cameras and lane departure warning systems advance and become more prevalent in the cars we’re driving, there is a tremendous need to improve consumer understanding of these critical safety features,” said Daniel McGehee, director of the Transportation and Vehicle Safety Research Division at the UI Public Policy Center.

Among the features least understood were adaptive cruise control (65%) and lane departure warning systems (36%). Consumers were also uncertain about features that have been standard in American cars for years, such as anti-lock braking systems and tire pressure-monitoring systems.

“The level of confusion about features that have been standard in American cars for quite a while was really surprising,” McGehee says. “The little details about how some of these systems work are really important when we’re talking about safety. We need to do a better job of making sure consumers are comfortable with them.”

To address that need, the University of Iowa recently partnered with the National Safety Council to launch MyCarDoesWhat, a national campaign aimed at educating consumers about new safety technologies and how they work.

MyCarDoesWhat includes educational videos and other information about safety features that help drivers avoid or reduce the severity of a crash. The website is part of a larger national education campaign set to launch this fall. The campaign includes academic and consumer research, videos, graphics, animation, social media, a game, an app, and advertising to educate drivers.

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20 August, 2015

rolls royce 8-20-15OM900I thought Rolls-Royce just made luxury cars, but I learned this week that its business is much broader than that.

Rolls-Royce Power Systems, which is part of Rolls-Royce’s Land & Sea division, introduced off-highway generator sets (4R0120 and 6R0120) made from converted on-highway engines (Mercedes-Benz OM924LA and OM926LA diesel engines respectively).

The generator sets, which have an output range of 80-200 kWe, will be marketed under Rolls-Royce’s MTU Onsite Energy banner. Rolls-Royce said this is the first time that the on-highway engines have been adapted for power generation applications, and customers can expect greater performance and reliability than was previously available at lower power nodes.

MTU Onsite Energy and Daimler AG worked together for three years to develop the generator sets, which were run 24 hours a day for nearly three months under wide load ranges and weather conditions (temperatures from -35° C to 24° C). They performed as expected.

Rolls-Royce Power Systems, headquartered in Friedrichshafen, Germany, employs around 11,000 people. Its products include MTU-brand high-speed engines and propulsion systems for ships, power generation, heavy land, rail and defense vehicles and for the oil and gas industry.

Rolls Royce also has an Aerospace division that covers both civil and defense applications. Spanning both divisions, the company’s mission is “to create better power for a changing world.” The divisions’ customers include armed forces, airlines and power companies in more than 120 countries.

Rolls-Royce employs more than 54,000 people – including some 15,500 engineers, in over 50 countries.

Really, a lot more than just luxury cars. Things are not always as we think they seem.

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17 August, 2015
mentor jeff infor IMG_0692_300dpi

Jeff Nedwick

Cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) and product lifecycle management (PLM) suites have numerous benefits when compared with on premise solutions. That’s according to Jeff Nedwick, industry solution & strategic director at Infor Automotive.

Citing a survey by Computer Economics, Nedwick said that cloud-based solutions help lower overall information technology (IT) costs. The survey showed that organizations that moved most or all of their systems to the cloud were able to reduce their IT spending by an average of 15% due to a reduction in data center spending and a reduction in IT personnel costs.

He added that cloud-based systems are typically more cost effective than on premise solutions. A study by Strategy& (formerly Booz & company) found that the total cost of ownership for a cloud-based solution can be 50% to 60% less than traditional solutions over a 10-year period.

Citing a study by Nucleus Research, Nedwick said organizations that deploy cloud-based applications spend 40% less on consulting and 25% less on support personnel than organizations that deploy on premise applications. That’s because cloud vendors provide a significant amount of application support and maintenance.

Then there’s faster: According to Strategy&, cloud-based implementations can be up and running in as little 4 to 8 months vs. 12 to 36 months for on premise solutions.

“Because cloud launches require less internal support—in terms of both physical infrastructure and human resources—organizations typically experience little business disruption during implementation,” Nedwick says, “and without the physical infrastructure that on premise solutions require, automotive companies won’t need to invest capital in new IT equipment during implementation or during subsequent upgrades.”

A cloud-based ERP system can also provide complete visibility across the entire organization. “Growth in new vehicle sales is fastest in emerging markets and automakers are investing in facilities in or near these markets,” Nedwick adds. “Being the first company to gain a foothold in these new markets is critical so larger suppliers are forming alliances and partnerships with local suppliers who may or may not have the necessary experience and skilled resources as a way to get established faster.

“Because cloud deployments don’t force companies to install a physical infrastructure, they help make it significantly less expensive and less time consuming to establish a business presence in new and remote locations.”

Nedwick concludes, “We’re seeing a dramatic change in how automotive companies view the cloud. Most have reassessed how they use capital – especially for non-core business processes – and concluded that they are in the business of making automotive components, not data centers.”

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